China’s unfinished business after 33 years of Tiananmen

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On the same day that Chinese President Xi Jinping said that human rights are respected and protected in his country, his wife cheng yuan, an activist sentenced to five years in prison under the general charge of subverting state power, received a letter from her husband in which he claimed that she had been tortured and had been subjected to forced labor during the first months. was forced to. Wing, Prison Security. “They sent me there to try to force me to confess to a crime,” the letter reads.

Chen, founder of Changsha FunengAn NGO dedicated to protecting marginalized groups in some regions of China, such as those with disabilities or HIV carriers, was arrested in 2019 along with two other associates because their organisation, according to a letter published by the police, collected funds from abroad. Received. Presenting “collusion with hostile foreign forces” and a “threat to national security”.

shi mingliCheng’s wife became aware of the torture at the same time that her country’s president was holding a videoconference meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bacheletwho was visiting China last week to visit the Xinjiang region in the northeast, where governments and international organizations have been reporting repression by Chinese authorities against the Uighur Muslim minority for years.

President Xi said, “The human rights of the Chinese are unprecedentedly guaranteed. Diverting from reality and copying the model of other countries will not only adapt to our local conditions, but will also lead to disastrous consequences.” In short: Human rights are all great, but so long as they are treated Chinese Characteristics Because we should not judge the Asian giants – a vast country with 1400 million residents, 55 recognized ethnic groups and a single-party government that does and destroys as it pleases – with a Western mindset.

For example, based on statistics, it can be said that a decade ago, just before Xi Jinping ascended the throne in Beijing, there were six prison sentences for activists, according to the Registry of Human Rights Defenders of China. (CHRD), is an organization made up of human rights groups working both inside and outside the Asian country. CHRD supervisors recorded last year more than 200 sentences,

However, many other cases of jailed activists who are yet to be punished are not included in that list. what Wang Aizhong |. Wang, who in 2010 founded the Street Movement, a civic platform that called for an end to one-party rule, but which was dissolved in 2014, when most of its members were arrested, amid the pandemic. The arrest was made after he shared criticism on social media about the controls. ,

These are just a few examples to help take the temperature of the human rights situation in China exactly when the calendar marks 33rd anniversary of the always silent Tiananmen massacre, There were hundreds of deaths on 4 June 1989. Maybe thousands. The number of Beijing students killed by Chinese troops after spending seven weeks protesting corruption, inflation and democracy was never known.

It is still a taboo subject in China. More than three decades of development and opening up, three leadership changes and a pandemic are not enough to prevent Tiananmen from being one of the most sensitive and difficult issues in a country where the president believes to protect human rights. prison system Such as RSDL, an acronym that refers to the so-called “residential surveillance at a specified location”. It is an extrajudicial system introduced in 2012 that allows Chinese police to exclude people accused of endangering national security, except lawyers, from the process. A black hole through which many activists, dissidents and human rights advocates have passed.

It’s a journalist case sophia huang (33 years old), who in 2018 became the most prominent figure in China’s Meitu movement by helping multiple plaintiffs in a sexual assault case involving a prominent Peking University professor. A year later, he was arrested for “instigating trouble”, after writing in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Huang spent three months at RSDL. When she left, she continued her activism until she disappeared on September 19, 2021. Since then no one has listened to him.

Several human rights lawyers have also gone through the RSDL, such as Chang Weiping (37 years old). “The interrogation lasted six days in a row. They locked him in a room tied to a stool and from there he could not walk for long,” his wife, Chen Zijuan, told this newspaper in an interview. Chang disappeared in October 2020 and did not reappear until April 2021, when the police announced his arrest on a formal charge of “subversion of state power”. Two years ago this lawyer had attended a meeting with some twenty Chinese activists critical of the communist regime.

forbidden commemoration

As usual every 4 June, access to Tiananmen Square is closed to foreign journalists. Any commemoration of the victims is prohibited. Any reference to what happened on the Chinese network disappears after a few minutes censorship machinery, Any public act of protest or remembrance can lead to prison.

They know it well in Hong Kong. For the third year in a row, autonomous region officials have banned an annual vigil that began in 1990, where thousands of candles lighted, large crowds gathered in Victoria Park to commemorate Tiananmen’s dead and demand the capture of the Chinese Communist was gathered. Party accountable.

“Over the past year, Chinese authorities have intensified the persecution and persecution of activists commemorating the massacre. In Hong Kong, they arrested and prosecuted 26 people for participating in a vigil held in 2020 to honor the victims. Driven,” it says. yaqiu vangoSenior researcher from China at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“But history teaches us that the repression of President Xi Jinping will not erase the memory of Tiananmen from the minds of Chinese citizens,” says Wang, who also recalls that late last year many Hong Kong universities withdrew many jobs. There were those who remembered what happened 33 years ago. The most famous of all, the “Pillar of Shame”, an eight-meter statue consisting of 50 victim faces and bodies stacked on top of each other, is a replica of it in Taiwan, the autonomous island that Beijing considers a separate province, where This Saturday they will be monitoring the victims remembering them.

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